Online business is extraordinarily attractive. The ability to run a business on the internet and be location independent is something so many of us crave. Why? Because we want freedom, independence, and self-reliance in our lives. In short, we want to be fully in control of our destiny.
The good news? It's something that almost anybody can do. We're living in an incredible time when people all over the world have the ability to earn a good living doing what they love.
Anyone with the right mindset can succeed with an online business. It just takes a strong dose of consistency, dedication, and perseverance.
Don't I need a whole bunch of cash to launch an online business?
The very nature of starting a business online makes it easily accessible to the masses. Here's why most online businesses don't cost much to get started:
Physical premises — Unlike traditional businesses, starting an online business can be easily done from home, which means significant savings on rent.
No staff needed — Bootstrapping your online business will save you money that would otherwise have to be spent on costly staff salaries. Sure, you may need to hire a freelancer here and there but you can do the majority of things without hiring anyone. Many online businesses are run by a sole owner or just two people.
No stock purchasing — Online businesses don't require the stocking of physical products. So you don't need to invest any money in inventory.
Typically, the biggest investment in starting an online business is your training. The knowledge you have in your business field of choice is instrumental to your success. So it's something you definitely don't want to skimp on.
Online Businesses You Can Start On a Shoestring
There are plenty of online business ideas out there today. Many of these business models are somewhat similar to each other.
It can be tempting to dip your toes into a few different types of businesses to figure out what works, but that's a sure-fire path to producing zero results. When you're first starting out, you want to narrow your focus on one thing until you start generating a steady income. Only then should you consider focusing on other projects.
Freelancing is an incredible way to leverage your existing skills to instantly start working for yourself and making money online. The freelancing industry is humongous. A study commissioned by Freelancers Union revealed around 34% of the entire American workforce are freelancers.
That's a grand total of 54 million Americans. And it isn't just limited to stereotypical industries like writing and photography. You can become a freelancer for almost any kind of work.
Many of these industries aren't commonly associated with freelancing so it's interesting to see how the market has transformed over the years. More companies are looking for flexible workers and more people are discovering the benefits of freelancing and taking the plunge.
Speaking of benefits, let's have a look at some of them:
You’re the boss — Freelancers enjoy working for themselves and not having to answer to any boss.
Work at your own pace — As a freelancer, you set your own pace for your project work. While you still have to work to deadlines for your clients, you're much more in control of the whole process in general. Want more on your plate? Go and get a couple of more clients.
More money — 60% of freelancers who left traditional employment now earn more money as freelancers. 78% of those people indicated that they earned more within the first year.
Location & flexibility — This is one of the biggest attractions for freelancing. It gives you the ability to create a schedule that perfectly molds around your lifestyle and work from literally anywhere in the world.
A huge reason why freelancing is so attractive is because it almost requires no investment. As a freelancer you're essentially selling your skills, so you don't need to invest money into anything to get started.
Plenty of people start their freelancing business on the side while still working a full-time job. This can be a great way to get your start online without taking any huge risks.
Some of the most popular freelancing platforms are Upwork and People Per Hour. But there are many other viable alternatives to these sites where you can find some really good clients. The best way to do this is to perform a Google search around common freelance job posting terms in your niche.
For example, If I was a freelance writer, a simple search for "online freelance writing gigs" comes up with a whole list of sites that post freelance writing opportunities. Two of the websites on the first page actually curate some of the top websites that post freelance writing jobs. Giving you access to an even bigger pool of sites.
2. Creating an Online Course
If you're an expert on any particular subject matter, why not teach people through a training course? Not only will you get the satisfaction from creating your own course and helping people but there's also a lot of money to be made.
The online education industry is bursting with opportunity. It's an industry that was worth $107 billion dollars in 2015. That number has most likely risen over the past couple of years. As more people look to the internet to educate themselves, individuals and companies alike are taking advantage by producing high-quality courses that people can digest entirely online.
One of the most popular instructors on Udemy teaches Web Development. I know, I'm yawning too. But this person has generated in excess of $2.8 million in total earnings from his courses.
How long does it take to create a course?
It all depends on how much you're focusing on course quality and how long you want your course to be. Generally speaking, creating an online course from scratch will take a substantial amount of time so you should budget your time accordingly.
The best courses are carefully crafted pieces of content that the instructors spent weeks or even months working on.
Do I need any technical skills?
Creating an online course will usually involve some form of video. If you're recording yourself then video editing will probably be the most technical part of the process. That said, there's plenty of user-friendly video editing software out there nowadays.
Many instructors choose to create their course by using screen recordings alone. It's easier to do it this way and still maintain a professional look and feel to your course (which is harder to pull off when recording yourself talking in a room).
3. Software Development
SaaS stands for Software as a Service. It’s a new way companies can create, distribute, and update software for the masses. It works by making software available to customers through the internet, instead of having to sell it to individual companies.
How? By leveraging the cloud.
Cloud computing technology enables software providers to host software on their own servers and effectively lease it out to people for a subscription fee (usually monthly).
It's a model of business that’s becoming increasingly popular because it has many benefits compared to traditional software business models. Traditional models require the purchasing, maintenance, and updating of expensive IT infrastructure.
Let's take a look at some of the benefits of a SaaS company:
Easy software administration Everyone who uses the software has the same version because updates and patches are completed automatically.
Predictable revenue Charging your customers on a monthly basis for your service ensures that you'll have a steady flow of revenue coming in each month.
High customer retention As long as your product is high-quality, your subscription business model means you'll most likely retain a high percentage of your customers for a very long time. You also have the option to market to existing customers for service upgrades.
Low costs Recurring costs for SaaS companies are typically very low. Once you've created the software, your biggest recurring costs will be for marketing and support.
Isn't it expensive to create the software?
This is where things get interesting. Many people assume that starting a SaaS company requires a massive chunk of startup capital. A fair number of SaaS founders come from a development background, in which case they bootstrap the business by creating the software themselves.
The cool thing is you can still build a SaaS company on a shoestring without knowing how to write a single line of code.
EQUITY FOR EXPERTISE
If you're strapped for cash and you need a developer to help turn your idea into reality, trading equity for expertise can be a great way to go. Instead of paying the developer up-front cash, you can offer a percentage stake in your company in return for an agreed piece of work.
This can work out as a win-win for both you and the developer(s). You have the ability to build the SaaS company of your dreams on a shoestring and the developers(s) have the opportunity to earn far more than they would've done if they were put on a salary.
The true definition of a consultant is an expert who helps someone go from their current situation, to their desired situation. They’re experts at solving a particular problem and can help a person (or company) reach their goals.
Consulting is a business model typically associated with big corporate firms but there's a completely different kind of consulting revolution taking place right now. People are starting their own one-person consulting businesses and getting some outstanding results.
WHY ARE PEOPLE WILLING TO PAY CONSULTANTS SO MUCH?
There are three fundamental reasons why people shell out for consultants:
They can't get to a desired goal on their own.
They're looking for speed. They may be able to do it on their own but are looking for someone who can get the job done faster.
They're looking to follow a proven system that works.
Services You Can Offer as a Consultant
Consultancy exists in every corner of business. One area that’s seeing a big rise in individual consulting is digital marketing. Almost every business out there is looking for ways they can grow their online presence and generate more consultations, subscribers, and sales.
Most businesses would love to increase their online presence, but many lack the in-house expertise to do so successfully. They're happy to pay a consultant a monthly fee to do it for them.
Here are some key points to consider if you're looking into starting your own consulting business:
Costs & Training — Getting the right consulting training is essential to your success. This will also be your biggest cost. Many consultants have launched their business with next to zero startup capital as there are many ways you can get clients organically.
Low Costs — As mentioned above, the biggest cost will be your training. Profit margins for sole-person consultancy businesses are huge. Your outgoings will be no more than a few hundred dollars with this type of business.
Location Independence — A consulting business gives you the ability to work from anywhere in the world. You don't even need to have in-person client meetings. Many consultants do all of their consultations over the phone or online.
Bringing It All Together
There you have it four ways to start an online business on a shoestring. We're truly blessed to have the internet as it provides so much opportunity for us to generate an income. The old days of requiring huge startup capital to get going in business are over.
The key thing here is to pick something and really stick with it. The temptation (especially with online business) is to hop between various opportunities to dabble and “see what works." The reality is that they all work, they just require a fair amount of hard-work.
Focus, determination, and consistency are the currency of the digital age.